Background: Postpartum weight retention may contribute to the development of obesity. We studied whether individual counselling on diet and physical activity from 2 to 10 months postpartum has positive effects on diet and leisure time physical activity and increases the proportion of primiparas returning to their pre-pregnancy weight.
Methods: A controlled trial including ninety-two postpartum primiparas was conducted in three intervention and three control child health clinics in primary health care in Finland. The intervention included individual counselling on diet and physical activity during five routine visits to a public health nurse; the controls received the usual care.
Results: In total, 50% of the intervention group and 30% of the control group returned to their pre-pregnancy weight (weight retention <or= 0 kg) by 10 months postpartum (p = 0.06). The confounder-adjusted odds ratio for returning to pre-pregnancy weight was 3.89 (95% CI 1.16-13.04, p = 0.028) for the intervention group compared with the controls. The mean proportion of high-fibre bread (of total weekly amount of bread) increased by 16.1% (95% CI 4.3-27.9) by 10 months postpartum in the intervention group compared with the controls when adjusted for confounders (p = 0.008). No significant differences were observed in changes in leisure time physical activity between the groups.
Conclusion: The intervention increased the proportion of primiparas returning to pre-pregnancy weight and the proportion of high-fibre bread in their diet. Larger randomized controlled trials are needed to show whether counselling can improve dietary and leisure time physical activity habits in postpartum women and also to confirm the results concerning the effect on reducing postpartum weight retention.